US millennials are shopping in droves at cheaper natural goods markets like Sprouts Farmers Market. Now Whole Foods is tapping into the growing trend of grocery retailers looking to increase value and woo this next generation of shoppers, such as Walmart, which is opening smaller Neighborhood Market stores for shoppers in a hurry, and Trader Joe’s, which is popular with young urbanites on a budget.
The first 365 by Whole Foods Market will open in May in Los Angeles—in hipsterlicious Silver Lake, of course—with other 365 concept stores scheduled to open in Oregon and Washington on the road to 10 stores by October 2017.
— Whole Foods Market (@WholeFoods) February 10, 2016
Whole Foods announced the plan to create a sub-brand of millennial-skewing smaller stores with smaller prices back in June. The name was inspired by the company’s popular 365 Everyday Value private-label store brand and comes as the pioneering wellness grocery chain has lost market share in the organic, fresh and natural grocery space as mainstream grocery chains now carry those items.
To fine-tune its new store concept, which it’s teasing as a “whole new grocery shopping experience” on Instagram (with a collage creating the image above) and Facebook, Whole Foods is looking for a few good “Friends of 365” to cohabit its new stores in a model pioneered by marketplaces such as Urban Outfitters’ “Space” concept stores.
To that end, the 365 by Whole Foods website is now inviting applications from “start-ups as well as established brands across a variety of categories to help enhance the 365 experience.”
The audition process for potential 365 partners calls for a brief video introducing a restaurant, retail or service concept. “Be creative. Be unique. Above all, be yourselves. It does not have to be fancy (and for goodness’ sake, no PowerPoints, we are not suits here).” So think local, indie, artisanal, low-key—and Instagram-ready.
Jeff Turnas, a 20-year Whole Foods veteran at the helm of 365, promises “a modern, streamlined design with innovative technology and a carefully-curated product mix that will offer an efficient and rewarding way to grocery shop.”
Whole Foods co-founder and Co-CEO John Mackey told investors last May that 365 “will offer a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high quality, fresh food at great prices,” as noted by the Austin American-Statesman. “We intend to continue to be the leader in this category for the rest of this century, so we are evolving with the marketplace.”
Co-CEO Walter Robb told Bloomberg that the 365 sub-brand will help Whole Foods “reach more communities than we would be able to with our mothership.”
Smaller-store competitors “are doing a nice job,” he added. “We don’t see any reason why we can’t go participate in that part of the market as well with our 365 by Whole Foods offer—it’s going to be unique.”